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Republican Kevin Kiley faces a tough challenge in the Central Valley

Republican Kevin Kiley faces a tough challenge in the Central Valley

GOP Assemblyman Kevin Kiley wins key rural California congressional district Democratic primary By MICHELLE MARTIN Associated Press Posted Fri 6:05 a.m. CDT June 20, 2018

LOS ANGELES — The race for a congressional district in the heart of California’s Central Valley has become a referendum on President Donald Trump, the political future for Republican Kevin Kiley and whether Democrats can recapture control of the House from Republicans.

The winner faces a daunting challenge keeping the seat in GOP hands: Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, a staunch Trump ally, and GOP former State Assemblyman Mike Noel have pulled off an all-out attack in a district that has been in Republican hands since 2002.

In the end, the race is a question of the president’s popularity — a factor rarely considered in congressional races.

For Kiley, an agricultural and economic development developer who is best known in Republican circles as the creator of the Central Valley’s Ag Expo trade show, the campaign has been about keeping Trump from getting out of his seat.

“My entire life has been devoted to protecting and promoting our great state,” Kiley said in a statement, “and I will always do that because I believe in our values and our way of life.”

Kiley, a former state senator from Humboldt, beat Democratic candidate John A. Trasvina, a lawyer, former agricultural executive and former chairman of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors.

The district, stretching between Bakersfield and Merced, includes the largest portion of California’s agricultural heartland with nearly 20,000 square miles of farmland.

The contest was far from over, however, with three polls showing Kiley with a double-digit lead in the race.

It is in the Central Valley where voters like Kiley, who is black, will have a direct connection to Trump and to the region’s voters. His campaign has focused on the economy, taxes and immigration, which is particularly important in the farm belt because of a high percentage of Hispanic workers who compete with Asian and Chinese workers in the region.

“We believe voters are going to be able to see the impact of the President’s agenda,” said Kiley, who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination to challenge Trump in

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